I've been in love with live music since the first concerts attended in my youth when flannel reigned. Coffee shops, amphitheaters, churches… doesn't matter. Living in Hawaii seemed to squash this long standing affair. So excited was I to move to music city where any night of the week there's a concert somewhere. Where on a regular basis I talk, see, listen too or walk by known, semi-known or longing to be known musical talent. It's planet melody, land of the free concert, and brave baring of the souls.
But living in well tuned Nirvana, one can sometimes forget to take advantage. I've compared it to living in Hawaii. Someone asks you if you go to the beach every day and you suddenly can't remember the last time you jumped in the salt water.
I've only lived here 2 years. Is the honeymoon already over? Someone asked me in December what the next concert I was going to was…I had no answer. Shamed, I went online that day and within minutes I had bought tickets to Joshua Radin on the Feb. 4th and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on Feb. 24th.
Last night was Joshua Radin. My familiarity composed of only Zach Braff recommendations from a few years ago, and a couple of purchased movie soundtracks containing his name. "Star Mile" always made my heart quicken in an almost need for purpose and a longing for completion. I can't hear it and not think of why I'm not more proactive in my life…why most days are just to get to the next. This of course is just me and has nothing really to do with the lyrics which are mostly about love lost.
What I was not aware of was the lust and swooning that is a Joshua Radin concert. While standing in line waiting for the doors to open I surveyed the line…the nearly all female line. It was comprised of mostly college girls and 30 and 40 somethings. They were also in groups. The only men I spotted where quite obviously also wanting to be alone with Joshua Radin or keeping their girlfriends warm in hopes going through this experience with them would get them laid.
Even the merch tables seemed to be comprised of Tiny girly Tees. I felt very out of my element…like I was attending a Justin Bieber show filled with tweens.
The Cannery Ballroom is a cool venue, brick walls…long bar, mood lighting, standing room only.
The opening band, a 3 piece from Canada, Andrew Allan brought me right back to Hawaii with a reggae beat that unfortunately is nails on a chalkboard for me. The rest of his set got better though, very sweet and happy go lucky. More Jason Mraz with a hint of Jack Johnson. He also sang a Sublime cover if that helps with a musician style description. Beyond that I would say three words, Bongos and Beanies.
Anya Marina was the second act, petite and blonde with a electric guitar a third her size. She starts to tell a story that every girl shares…Remember back in high school when you were in love with that guy, that really cute guy. But he was a vampire and….which preludes to "Satellite Heart" which was featured in one of the Twilight movies. Anya is just cool. She's rock with one eye winking. Her lyrics are quirky, fun and sexy.
When the main act came on close to 10pm, he seemed to be bursting with sincerity, trying desperately to get the crowd to participate in songs. He even brought out 3 local gradeschool kids to play "Brand New Day" with him on their acoustic guitars. Joshua is partnered with "Little Kids Rock" which he works along with teachers to incorporate his songs into music lessons, and in each city a new group of school kids gets to play a song with him on stage. Upping the ante of females who now wanted to bare his children and a collective eye roll from their boyfriends.
I feel this venue will be better suited for the Grace Potter show than Joshua Radin who was often very soft spoken and monotone in his long story telling between songs. He was barely autible over the chatter of the hen house. At one point he stood away from the microphone and sang to the crowd which actually quieted some to hear him. The only song that seemed to turn everyone's volume down was "I'd Rather Be with you" showing just how many people were there just for the hits.
His guitar player was the splitting image of Zach Galifianakis and his Bass/Keyboard player looked like a young Paul McCartney. Joshua was almost too old school hollywood to be holding a guitar. His looks almost distracting from his beautiful and soulful voice. I have to admit though, he was very genuine. But watching the 3 of them play together was just bizarre. A strange threesome of look a likes.
The room was packed, as in most people were shoulder to shoulder. The body heat stifling. If you should sway or lean you would be against the someone next to you in a very personal way. A tipsy blonde and her boyfriend getting handsy and consistently wanting to change standing positions and talk through every song…had me agitated and at one point up against the person next to me while they continued to push so I had to squeeze through the crowd for better real estate. Having gotten there early though I was pretty close to the stage and the crowd was packed to the back. I found myself over by the bar by the time the opening acts were over and somewhat of a good stage viewing spot. That was until this unusually tall girl in a big red coat seemed to always move her head just so. I wanted to give her the $3 for the coat check just so she's leave her position for a minute and I could establish mine. Another tipsy blonde taps me on the shoulder, "umm I have to ask you….what is your favorite Joshua Radin song…because I'm here with my boyfriend and he doesn't care". I look over at her boyfriend who is busy texting as if following her around at the mall. On the other side of me a group of girls discussed how they would get back stage and what strategies worked at other concerts they'd attended. Such a meeting of the minds.
By mid concert red coat girl had moved and there was now only 2 couples standing between me and a pillar to stand next too. I could soon enjoy the rest of the show next to a non-texting, non-speaking, not drunk giant piece of building. I waited with anticipation.
The couple in front of me turn to leave. They are facing me now and suddenly the girls head falls back. She faints right then and there (either picturing Joshua naked, too much to drink or heat exhaustion…it was never established) and somehow very skillfully slings her drink AND her boyfriends onto me then falls to the floor. The crowd moved like a wave and a circle of floor space opened up around the girl and her boyfriend. People and water where called over and they carried her out through the crowd in a very dramatic way. The ice and some unknown alcohol hurled at me was almost a blessing on my lower half as it was 1000 degrees in the room. I kept thinking if I was in my underwear, I might be comfortable but even my tissue T felt like a wool coat. A few minutes later the other couple left and I was able to watch the rest of the show from a great spot. And Me and the Pillar swooned a little, but just a little.
For the last song of the night he jumped down into the crowd and sang and played unplugged. The crowd formed a circle and camera phones eliminated the room. Had the chatter ceased maybe I could have heard what song it was but alas people had things they needed to talk about during this performance. When he walked back stage he passed within a few feet of me. I managed to stay conscious. =P
The opening acts waited at their merch tables to sign autographs and take pictures after the show. They were giving out wrist bands to meet Joshua Radin but I declined the lust fest. I bought a Anya Marina cd "Slow and Steady Seduction: Phase II" instead (I need to learn a few things..lol). Waiting for autographs I knew would mean less time in the parking lot waiting to get out. Standing at the Anya end of the tables the girl in front of me was none other than the red coat girl…geez, really?!!?! I waited and I waited. "Thank you, you have been so patient!" Anya says as I hand her the CD. I listened to it on my 20 minute drive home and its one of my new favorites.
Great show Joshua Radin but I wish I'd seen you in a quiet coffee shop.